Amid the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, with its shared threat to our humanity, we might be likened to a youthful David, facing off a huge Goliath, armed with only five pebbles and a sling. We could be there in the Valley of Elah, gathering with other troubled souls on one slope, dishevelled, fearful and cowering in the face of the enemy giants opposite. How do you battle giants whose death-making footprints are enormous, but in substance are one thousand times smaller than a pinhead? What hope is there with a sling, a few pebbles and perhaps a facemask? Unless, of course, you have an excellent backup!

A mirror, held amid this battle, could reflect images of the people we are. Would it highlight a people of courage, perseverance and neighbourliness, or of heightened anxiety, self-absorption and despair? What if the mirror was held up by the Holy Spirit (our excellent backup)? Might it reflect our changing shape and character as citizens of God’s kingdom here in our troubled world? Or would it reveal us merely enduring the battle? The biblical prophets, when walking with people through catastrophes encouraged more than endurance, including “proactively changing relationships with each other and with God” (Christine Jeske).

Covid-19 has broken through into our world. The same biblical prophets foretold another incursion which has now happened. It is the in-breaking of God’s cruciform and resurrection life into human history and into our lives, through which a community of the new covenant life is created “that embodies the character of that divine invasion” (Michael Gorman). In our responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can respond as citizens of God’s kingdom of righteousness, justice and well-being. While the virus passes into the human body, the new kingdom life that the Holy Spirit passes into our souls, makes us friends of God and prophets. I am sure that the youth who, with his pebbles and sling, grew into the poet, warrior king, would have Psalmic words of praise for that!

Chris Brown